In Germany, with effect from November 2014, a draft law devised by Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party to ban organised assisted suicide, will be put to the vote in the German Parliament.
Currently, based on a legal loophole, two organisations, namely the Sterbehilfe Deutschland (StHD) Company and the German branch of the Swiss Dignitas Association can help interested parties to obtain a lethal cocktail to inject themselves.
The debate was suddenly triggered with the July publication in Die Zeit of an interview with Nikolaus Schneider, president of Germany’s Evangelical Church Council, and his wife who is suffering from cancer. Going against her husband’s religious beliefs, Mrs. Schneider would consider travelling to Switzerland with him “if she got to the point of wishing to die” to “drink the poison”.
Different viewpoints have already been expressed. The German Evangelical Church, which opposes any assisted suicide, wants “above all to open a debate focusing on the room for manoeuvre to be given to doctors in order to manage the terminally ill”. Although the Catholic Church wishes to “ban organised assisted suicide”, it is insisting on “expanding palliative care, especially on an outpatient basis. (…) Both these aspects must definitely be combined to dispel the idea of assisted suicide as an option”.